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The Misleading Mind

Kadampa Center for the Practice of Tibetan Buddhism

Live streaming event in real time

Workshop, Raleigh, North Carolina

Watch  Friday, Oct. 14 7-8:30 pm
Saturday, Oct. 15 10 am-noon, 1:30-4:30 pm
Sunday, Oct. 16 1:30-4:00 pm in EDT

Facebook Event

Thе workshop has useful tools for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. We each have the potential to transform our suffering into happiness, to free ourselves from the prison of our problems. As practiced in Buddhism for more than 2,500 years, the process involves working with, rather than against, our depression, anxiety, and compulsions. We do this by recognizing the habitual ways our minds perceive and react — the way the mind misleads. Тhe practical exercises and inspiring real-world examples show how one can neutralize suffering and step onto the path of a radically liberating self-understanding. The workshop is based on my book of the same name, which is an excellent source for more information about these techniques.

FUSION WITH THE ILLUSIONARY SELF

(Excerpt from the book The Misleading Mind)

When we are nervous before seeing the dentist, our anxiety is not seen as something separate from our sense of self. We say, “I’m really nervous about getting my teeth drilled,” and the internal experience is not one of a “designated” or “relative” self and nervousness. We are nervous. This misconception or dynamic, and it’s variations, is what is in action with all of our problems.

When we feel depressed, our self-identity becomes fused with depression. We have an extremely difficult time objectifying or depersonalizing depression. We are depression. This sense of fusion is graded, in that there are degrees of fusion. When the degree of fusion is massive, we could say that we get “body and psyche snatched.” We can literally see no end and no alternative to our helplessness; in fact we become the very incarnation of hopelessness, and then it is not surprising that a depressed person will feel suicidal. Death is considered the only alternative to finding release from hopelessness and its identity of a hopeless self.

(This topic continues in the book The Misleading Mind)

THE UNREALITY OF STRESS

(Excerpt from the book The Misleading Mind)

We experience stress often, and it can seem diffuse and general. Yet we tend to become anxious when we fear certain consequences, and these are directly related to what we have decided to value. Say you have a deadline for a project you are working on, and you are becoming more and more stressed as the deadline approaches. Naturally, the date of the deadline is itself arbitrary; it is entirely the project of the context of your job. If your deadline is July 15, what is “July 15”? It is merely a label, and it’s reality as a “deadline” does not exist except as a concept, albeit a concept in many people’s minds.

Even the fact that it is a shared concept, a mutually agreed-upon date for the completion of work, does not make the deadline more “real” in any inherent sense. Indeed, our whole lives are spent in just such mutually agreed-upon fictions, and yet the stress and anxiety we feel don’t seem arbitrary or made up. Once we become anxious, that anxiousness feels real, and it lives inside us until we alone take control of it and transform it.

(This topic continues in the book The Misleading Mind)

EMOTIONAL FUSION – PART 2

(Excerpt from the book The Misleading Mind)

As with self-consciously named roles like “father” or “teacher,” we sometimes treat emotional states of mind as permanent aspects of our self. For example, depression. When we’re depressed, the feeling itself may seem unending, as if it will never go away. Of course, we know even our strongest feelings will change over time, eventually, but we may still come to believe that we are a depressive person by nature (or an angry person, or an anxious person, and so on). This quality feels like an unchanging, concrete part of ourselves, and our attitude is: I’m always going to be depressed, now and forever, because that is who I am and how I’ve always been. I am depression.

And yet, this becomes just another limited identity, the “depressed person.” Further, no emotion exists out of context, without being related to or dependent on what else is going on. Certain disturbing emotions arise or are triggered by certain identities, which arise due to particular circumstances. Through our disturbing emotions are experienced directly, arising unpremeditated and instantly in reaction to events, they still remain products of a specific context. We almost never consciously choose how we react. And in fact, we can use our disturbing emotions to help us see and identify the “role” or “identity” particular situations cast us in.

(This topic continues in the book The Misleading Mind)

EMOTIONAL FUSION – PART 1

(Excerpt from the book The Misleading Mind)

We all, most likely, would agree that we are not our beliefs, our experiences, or our roles. We know intellectually that we are not solely any of these limited things, but there’s the rub. Despite this understanding, we often behave and react otherwise. We “forget” in the heat of the moment. We live in a kind of hallucination brought on by our emotions, which are experienced so fully and directly, it’s as if they take over our mind and we “fuse” our identity with them.

Look at how we talk about our emotions. Usually, we say we “are” the thing that we feel, physically or emotionally. We’ll say, “I am hungry.” And how funny: We’re now no longer a project manager; we are hunger. We say, “Boy, am I tired!” Or, “I am relaxed after that walk.” Or, “I’m mad at my boss and anxious about my job review.” In the moment, we became anger or relaxation or anxiousness. In fact, all day long we are constantly identifying with our emotions, and we treat them as if they are the infallible barometer of our true self.

(This topic continues in the book The Misleading Mind)

WHO ARE YOU? – PART 2

(Excerpt from the book The Misleading Mind)

I admit it, it can be disconcerting to realize that there is no “inherent” self. Even after considering this idea, we will struggle against this truth. We may recognize that, throughout life, we are constantly changing and that we slip from one identity to another, unconsciously or without deliberate intent. But we try to avoid having “multiple personalities” and the seemingly “schizophrenic” quality of self this implies. We prefer to see ourselves as just one entity with one personality, and so we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to assemble one coherent, consistent, cohesive, unchanging “self”. One way we do this is by cultivating our opinions, beliefs, and “ideals” – our philosophy.

In a sense, it is more accurate to say that these opinions, beliefs, and ideals hold onto us, for it’s a reciprocal relationship. To have an identity, we need an opinion or belief; to have a belief or opinion, we need an identity. This is really what it means to say that identities are not “real,” since to exist they are independent with, or dependent on, other things, like opinions, thoughts and beliefs.

(This topic continues in the book The Misleading Mind)